It’s great to go viral, but there’s more to it than simply launching your content on the unsuspecting web and hoping for the best. Millions of domains are registered each month so there’s little chance of you standing out, even with all the search engine optimisation techniques at your disposal.
But virality isn’t an accident – there’s plenty you can do to make sure your content is shared.
1) Create something remixable: short, catchy clips, excellent themes, icon sets and ux elements are all the kind of thing that can drive visitors to your site while showcasing your work. You can rely on other people wanting to show off what they’ve created from your content as a way of boosting your signal.
2) Create something people will value and share: lists, how-tos and tutorials are all valuable resources that people will share with others who have the same interest. Not only is this a valuable signal boost, it drives the right kind of traffic to your site.
3) Seed your networks well: seek out high traffic blogs and well-connected social networkers to be the first carrier wave of your content. Drip feeding content to your own social network is usually not enough.
4) Keep an eye on trending topics: some you can prepare fore, like the superbowl or the elections. Others just happen, like the Arab Spring uprisings. Be nimble, choose relevant topics and get your content into the conversation.
5) Choose your tone carefully: don’t make the mistake that Kenneth Cole did and publicise on the back of an event that you don’t understand. When he tied the bloody protests in Cairo to the launch of his latest fashion range the PR backlash was understandably ferocious.
6) Pick the right metrics: if you want to go viral you need to understand who is sharing your content and how. Rather than measuring unique visitors or page views you need to understand the social graph of the people who have seen your content. Measure their demographics and their friend profile to get a better understanding of who you’re reaching and how.
7) As a corollary to tip 6 – learn FQL: if you have anything that is developed for or shared via Facebook you should be making sure that you understand how to mine the rich seam of data that the Graph API provides.
8) Make many versions: you can iterate your way to a viral design if you launch several versions at once. Watch the metrics closely to see which ones have high shareability and which ones aren’t making a splash and tailor your next iteration accordingly.
9) Understand your K-Factor: The K-Factor or rate of infectiousness is an epidemiological measure that tells you how fast your virus is spreading.
If each person hares with one other person the rate of exposure remains constant. If they share with more than one person on average then your exposure will grow. Even for very small values greater than one, growth can become exponential.
10) ARM yourself: if you want to make money from your content you need to understand the acquisition, retention, monetization funnel. Not every viewer you acquire will be retained for multiple views. Not everyone who comes back multiple times will pay for your product or service.
Even the most popular viral isn’t going to make you any money if you can’t encourage your new visitors to become paying customers.